Consumer Guide Album
Santana: Moonflower [Columbia, 1977]
Mixing greatest oldies with lesser newcomers, salsa classics with rock covers, European concert hall with San Fran studio, this seamless double album should stand as the working definition of a world-class band. My objections stand, too--the improvisations sometimes divert when they should sustain, the groove is often too easy, and the vocal ensembles sound like commercials. But all these flaws, for better or worse, suit music of such global appeal. And Carlos Santana has never played so well for so long. In the rock guitar tradition he is less a man of style than of sound, a clear, loud, fluent sound that cleanses with the same motion no matter how often that motion is repeated--as long as the intensity and the context are there. On this album, the live cuts provide both.